Bush’s big business benevolence was translated into action with yesterday’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission to repeal the law blocking America’s big four TV networks from acquiring their two smaller competitors.

By three to one, the FCC commissioners decided to consign to the scrap heap the “dual network ownership limit”, legislation barring the ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC networks from taking over the UPN and WB networks. The dominant quartet are respectively owned by Walt Disney, Viacom, NewsCorp and General Electric.

According to the FCC, the growth of cable and satellite television and the internet has rendered the dual network rule obsolete and irrelevant to the promotion of diversity and competition. Said FCC spoke Susan Ness: “I do not believe this limited relaxation will harm diversity in the marketplace.”

But the move failed to satiate hungry media group AOL Time Warner, owner of the WB network, which urged the FCC to axe rules barring cable operators from owning local TV stations.

The issue will be decided later this year when the FCC rules on the abolition of other TV ownership restrictions, including the ceiling on how much of America's potential national audience can be within the remit of any one broadcaster. The limit is currently 35%

Also on the FCC’s upcoming agenda is the removal of the ban on newspaper and TV station ownership within the same region.

News source: The Times (London)